Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "A short account of the African slave-trade"

See other formats









Prints© for W. Lownoss, No.77 , Flsst-StrjU?* 


[ Jto SIXPENCE. ] 

Lately fublijhed\ 

hi One Volume OBavo s Price 4 s. in Boards , 
. . or § s. Bqimd\ 

(Illuftrated by a New Map of the Slave Coast, 
comprehended between the River Volts and Benin, 
with Cape Lagos.) 

M EMOIRS of tlie %ksg» fef MOSS A 

an Inland Country of Guinea; to which are 
added, the" Author's Tour to "Abom'by, the 
Capital; and a Short Account of the African 
Slave Trade. 



a;;;c c o u n t 



A S the African Slave-Trade has been of 
ktethe fubject of public examination 
and of private difcuffion, a brief account of 
it may pot perhaps be unacceptable to thof'e 
who have had no opportunity of hearing the 
evidence that has been given at the bar of 
both houfes of pa^liament, or leifure to pe- 
rufe the various publications which the pre- 
fent inquiry has oecafionech 
A trade felbMegro Oaves is carried on from 
the rivef" $efegal in 16 deg. north latitude* 
A a to 



to Cape Negro, in 16 deg. fouth: which 
comprehends a tradf of near four thoufand 
miles of fea coaft; and includes the greateft 
part of the interior country, w r ithin the above 
limits, from the confines of Mount Atlas, 
acrofs the immenfe continent of Africa, to 
Mozambique, on the eaftern coaft. 

From the nations bordering on the rivers 
Senegal and Gambia, the emperor of Mo¬ 
rocco procures annually recruits for his black 
cavalry; and his fubjedls are furnifhed from 
thence with whatever (laves they have occa- 
(ion for. Caravans alfo traveL from thence 
acrofs the continent, to Upper Egypt, with 
confiderable numbers of Negro (laves; who 
are forwarded from thence either from Alex¬ 
andria, by fea, or marched through Afia 
Minor, to Conftantinople. From the fame 
country, including the diftri&s towards the 
river Sierra Leon, Haves are colle<fled for 
fupplying the different (fates of Barbary ; 
from the ports of which, fome of thefe (laves 
are fent to the Morea, and to the Turkifli 
iflands in the Mediterranean: hence it is, 
that the African coaft from Senegal to Sierra 
Leon affords, comparatively, but few (laves 



to the European traders. From Mozam¬ 
bique, and the ports on the eaftern coaft of 
Africa, great numbers are fent to Perfia, Goa, 
and other parts of the Eaft Indies; and in 
proportion as the culture of the Weft Indian 
Iilands, and of the European fcttlements in 
America, has been extended, a demand for 
the labour of African Negroes has regularly 
increafed there; and now amounts to about 
eighty thoufand annually : of which the Bri- 
tifh purchafe about forty thoufand; the 
French, twenty thoufand; the Portuguefc, 
ten thoufand; the Dutch, fix thoufand; and 
the Danes, four thoufand.—Of the forty 
thoufand purchafed by the Britifh,. about a 
twentieth part , are calculated to die on the 
voyage 5 and three-fourths of thofe that ar¬ 
rive in the Weft Indies, are difpofed of to the 
French and Spaniards; the remainder are 
diftributed in the Britifti i(lands i the greater 
part of which continues ftill in a ftate of na¬ 
ture. Jamaica will require an addition of 
five or fix thoufand flaves annually, for many 
years, to complete its cultivation. This is 
the cafe alfo, though in a. lefs degree, of the 
iflands of Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent 5 , 
A 3 and 


and feme other places ; particularly the Bav 
hamas and the Bay of Honduras: the Ba-> 
hamas are'now: the retreat of the unfortunate 
Loyalifts, who having been banifhed from 
the United States, have a virgin foil to work 
upon, which promifes no ungrateful return, 
as foon as the necefTary labourers can be pro¬ 
cured ; and the Bay of Honduras affords an 
aiylum to thofe Britifh fettjers, who have 
lately been, obliged to abanddn iheir poflcfo 
lions on the Mofquitto fhore. 

When the prodigious demand for African 
Negroes, which’ has exifted for'time imme¬ 
morial in Mauritania, Egypt, Perlfe, and. 
the Eaft, is confidered * and in addition to 
that the immenfe exportation ‘ of late year4 
to America and the Weft Indies* it might fee 
prefumed, that a vifible d^creafo of inhabi¬ 
tants would be the eonfequcnCe of thefe an¬ 
nual drains 5 but from the concurrent tefti- 
mony of the mofl intelligent perfons, who 
have vifited that country, it does not appear 
that this fpeculation is juflified by expe¬ 
rience. * 

They who have been both in Africa and 
America, fay that they have been ftruck 



with the appearance of near!/ the* famepo- 
piilation as in the ftareof Virginia, in thofe 
parts of Africa that lie upon the Cbkft; and 
add, that from ‘ the * belt imformation which 
they could get, the interior parts are at leaft 
as fully inhabited, as thofe which they had 
ah opportunity offeeing. Virginia compre^ 
hetids about thirty thoufand fquare miles, 
and, including the Negroes, is laid to con¬ 
tain e%ht hundred thoufand inhabitants; 
taking this for the balls of a calculation, it 
may r&afonabiy be prefuiped that Negroland, 
which extends, as was mentioned before, 
from the Senegal to Cape Negro, and from 
thc l *At!afrtic eaftWard to the Indian Ocean, 
and contains, exclufive of Nubia : and AbiL 
finik, at lfcjifr, four millions of fquare miles, 
cannpt have lefs than orife hundred and fix 
millions of inhabitants* which 1 'are more 
than Great Britain^ France^Spaiiii Portugal^ 
Germany, Italy, Holland * and Switzerland 
colletSlively contain; ‘ • ’ ■ - 

' A late writer*, who was 1 well acquainted 
with Africa, from his long refidence there, 

t -* Jbc. late=Qoyemor of Cape Coafl: Caftle; 

whofe account may be had from the publiiher of this work. 

A 4 has 


has ppjnted.. out the very different, circling, 
fiances of Europe and^ Africa, with regard 
to .the advantages and difadvantages attend- 
ing the propagation of the fpccies in, each. 
What, numbers of bo|h %es, fays jj^e, are 
there in the European world, who grow up 
and : die without ever having, children ! The 
increase of luxury has always,been an.epqmy; 
to matrinaony; and. accprcjingly, *wq fincl 
many.decline; it front choic^ and many froip 
neceffity. The vain: are deterged fro^ it, 
from? an r u.nwiiiingn^fs .to abridge qgy* part 
of the fplendor of ,th^i .appearance and 
the indigent, from a certainty of nciuitiplyi^g 
their neceHlties.. TJhe long abfenqq of men 
from their f wivq$, qp. account qf f tnidp apd 
other avocations, to, fay ..nothing of lyarand 
it? wakeful confequence^,4ieceffarily rreduces 
the .number, of births. ..A;fate of feryitude 
precludes a ; ftate of, .matrimony, in . a great 
part of die , community for there are t fow 
who will keep a married fervant pf either 
(ex; but above all, religion, in the,-Ionian 
Catholic countries, flrikes the heaviefl blow 
at propagation. Thefe, and other obstacles 
to marriage and population, which'ekifi^and 



are likely ;to continue in Europe, prevent a 
yearly: recruit of at leaft fome Hellions of 
peopleyet under>raU thefe difadv^tages, 
the number of itelinhabftants arefuppofed 
toincreafe. ;; -n: :s;t 

In. Africa none of t^^;/pre^ 
vail:, there we find defire* unchecked by the 
dread of want, taking its full fcope.> A 
turn.Speculation, retirement and abft*a<$ed 
ftudks, refutations of celibacy -from difap^ 
pointed love, unmarried fervants, Jong: vpy~ 
agesj and religious yo^ys, are Utterly imkllQWlt. 
TJteinwarsare nop attended mthrtbe .fame 
circumftances - of deftru<ftipn: asotfrs,*? and 
here -are no impediments^ againft puffuing 
the di^tes of paturalinclination.' polygamy, 
is univerfally pradlifed in Africa,:, and con^ 
tributes greatly to its pppuloufnefs.; Itrwould 
be {hurtful to the, population of : Europe? 
where the number of males and females bom 
is nearly equal, or at leaft differs only,-about 
as niUjch as to make up for the number of 
the former that are cut off, byaccideta&ar- 
tepding{|heir affiye ftate: , 1 Africa, 

# Long voyages, tedious imprifoninents, fiiipwrecks, 
bombardments, Sec, Sc c. 



where no man goes without a wife* from a' 
fcarcity of women, and in fhort an:*un- 
mated black man is feidOm or neycr-i&n; 
where .the richeft men, having many wives, 
do not prevent the pooreft from having One 
or two, the number o£ Women rhufo greatly 
exceed fchatof the men : nor is this atingu- 
lar cafe* for the fame happens at Bantam, 
and other parts of *he j Eaft Indies,, thhf* lief 
in the farrie latitude: befides the : mifriber 
of men every year flaughtered and facrMced 
in Africa, there is a great majority of male 
flaves Carried out of ' iti which ftiliadds 
very much to the relative proportion of wo- 
men left behind ; fo that there muft be an 
advantage to population in admitting poly¬ 
gamy" in- a country;' where ahnoft every man 
may have two ot J three : *wivesv arid foveral, 
as many hundreds. Hence it is, t!hat Africa 
can not only continue 1 fupplying all the 
mands that offer for her furplus inhabitants, 
in the quantities * it, has hitherto done, but, 
if neceflity required it> could fpare thoufands, 
nay millions morci tb the end of time; all 
of whom may be considered as refeued 


by this means from that certain. death, which 
awaited them in their o\m coyntry.. .1 ,r:i : c V 
The vaft, country toft: Negroland M: 
videdinto, a multitude of Sms, -tbf gtP*eft 
j«rt of •Which have-neveryefebeen explored-* 
but in thofe which have-been vifited by,£u- 
ropeans,! the government-is found' to vary 
from the mod abfolute tyranny in feme, to 
fomewhat lefs defpotic' and; oppreffive in 
others; : The bulk- of the people : are flaves 
to a feW freemen; arid-in' feme dates there 
is not an individual free but the, prince: 
from every circumdaiice of intelligence .an 4 
obfervation, the- general date of. the Negro, 
in Africa, • is that of flavery and oppreffifin, 
in every fe'nle of 'the. word,- ■ ifi Dabofny^ the 
king is abfolute mader- #,the -life, .liberty, 
and property, of every perfon in his domi¬ 
nions; and he fpojrts with, them, with~thc 
mod favage and wanton cruelty. Piles; of 
their heads, are placed as ornaments .before 
his palace gates on fedival days, and on every 
public occafion; and the flpori- leading to 
his apartment- are drewed with their bodies, 
to imprefs, thofe who approach him with re- 
fped: and awe. The area before his bed¬ 



chamber, is paved with the fkulls of pri- 
foners taken in war, that he may daily en¬ 
joy the favagegratifkation of literally tramp¬ 
ling on the heads of his enemies. Parents 
have neither property, nor interefl in their 
children, in the Daboman territories • they 
belong Entirely -to the king, and, are all 
taken, by his order, from their mothers, at 
an early age, and diftributed in villages re¬ 
mote from the place of their nativity ; 
where there is but little chance of their be¬ 
ing feen, or, at leaft, recognized by their 
parents afterwards. His motive for this is, 
that there may be no family connexions, no 
affociations that might be injurious to his 
uhlimitted power*' Each individual is de¬ 
tached, and unconnected ; and, having no 
relative for whom he is interefted, is foli- 
citous only for his own fafety, which he con- 
fults by the molt abjeeft fubmifllon. There, 
paternal affections, and filial love fcarcely 
cxift: for mothers, inftead of cherishing, 
endeavour to fupprefs thofe attachments for 
their offspring, which, they are certain, will 
be violated, as foon as their children are able 
to undergo the Tatigue of being* removed 



from them. Yet, this wofft of flavery does 
not prevent population, as it, doubdefs, would 
in any civilized part of the world, where 
liberty is prized above all other enjoyments. 
But the idea of flavery is different in an 
African. Had the Negro the love of ra¬ 
tional freedom exifting in his bread, it is 
next to impoflible that he could adt thus. 
But, alas! he knows nothing of this in¬ 
ert imable blcfling, having never.enjoyed it! 
The country which gave him birth, the foil 
from which he fprung, produce no fuch 
bloffom ; and, ihould it ever appear, which 
is highly improbable, inftcad of the fofter- 
ing hand to bring it to maturity, the bloody 
and unrelenting arm of tyranny is ever ready 
to cut it down. 

The credibility of thefe extraordinary 
fadts does not depend upon mere hearfay: 
Dahomy is a maritime kingdom, in which the 
Britifh, French, and Portuguefe have been 
permitted to eredl forts for the prote&ion of 
their trade; and the veracity of what is 
here related, is authenticated by the indubi-. 
table tertimony of many w'ho have refided 
there, and have avowed it publicly. 



The Africans have been in the pra&ice* 
from time immemorial, of felling their 
countrymen, and never entertained any more 
doubt of their fight to do fo, than we do of 
fending delinquents to Botany Bay or. to Ty¬ 
burn; deeming it fair and juft to difpofe of 
their Haves, prifoners of war, and felons, 
according to their Own eftabliflied laws and 
cuftoms. Great enormities they piiniftiwith 
death; but, unlefs it be in fuch defpotic 
governments as Dahomy , few but criminals 
are fold to the Europeans, except prifoners 
taken in war; who would inevitably be put 
to 0 death, did not a more profitable mode 
offer of difpofing of them : and hence it is, 
that perfons of fome rank in their own 
country, fometimes become Haves in the 
Weft Indies and American colonies; but the 
houfe of bondage, ftridlly fpeaking, may be 
called a land'of freedom to them: where, 
notwithftanding they do not enjoy pre-emi¬ 
nence, they may be comfortable; and where, 
although prevented from exercifing cruelty 
on others, they are always protedied them- 
felves. Thofe who are guilty of theft, adul¬ 
tery, or the imputed crime of witchcraft, 



iftheyefcape death,are fold forflaves. To 
deter them from the coirimiffion. of ihefe 
crimes, their lituation in foreign Jkveiy is 
reprefented to be attended with the fevereft 
tortures ; which, fortunately for them how- 
ever, are not realized. Nor is it to be won¬ 
dered at, in a country of fo great extent, 
and fo little civilization, that the greateft 
part of the Africans; brought to the; Euro¬ 
pean colonies, have been prcvioufly con* 
demned to flavery, for ads of delinquency 5 
iince Great Britain alone, under the fupe- 
rior advantages of its religion; laws, and 
manners, produces annually above two thou- 
fand convi&s. 

Since the labour of African (laves has 
been found neceffary for the cultivation of 
the foil in the tropical climates of America, 
from the utter incapacity of white people to 
undergo that fatigue, every European nation 
poflefling colonies there, has been folicitous 
to acquire a (hare in this traffic; nor have 
the molt fcrupulous of them entertained a 
doubt of their right to purchafe, what the 
Africans exercifed a right to difpofe of. 

Among the adventurers in this trade, the 

Brit i Hi 


JBritifh poffefs; at prefent,. the greateft lhar& 
It was during the government of the Com¬ 
monwealth, that Negroes were carried, in any 
numbers, to the Britilh Weft Indies, and 
then, chiefly to Barbadoes: a few indeed 
were brought to Virginia, by. a Dutch fhip, 
as early as 1620; but it was the; Rpyal Afru 
can Company that ftrft carried on, ’ from 
England, a vigorous cpmmeire to Africa^ 
during the reign of Charles II. We ;may 
form an opinion of the magnitude of it, in 
its moft flourifhing ftate, prior* the Revo¬ 
lution in 1688, by confidering that the 
company employed thirty (hips annually, 
which delivered about five thoufand Negroes 
in the Weft Indies. The increafe of it to 
its prefent ftate, may be attributed to the 
enterprizing fpirit of the merchants; to the 
fuperior addrefs of thofe employed in the ex¬ 
ecutive part of it; to the opulence of the 
manufacturers, which enables them to extend 
a credit to the former, beyond what can be 
had in any other country ; and to the annual 
grants of parliament, for the maintenance 
of fevcral forts and factories in Africa. From 
thefe concurring circumftances, the Britifh 



planters are fupplied with Negroes, on more 
reafonable terms than their neighbours; 
and a large furplus is left, which is difpofed 
of to the French and Spaniards for fpecie, 
and other valuable commodities. 

The importance of this trade to Great 
Britain may be determined from the follow¬ 
ing considerations: it immediately employs 
one hundred and eighty lhips, about one 
hundred and forty of which fail annually 
for Africa, with cargoes which amount near¬ 
ly to a million fterling, and which are com- 
pofed of the productions of the Britifti fet- 
tlements in the Eaft and Weft Indies; and 
of Britifti manufactures, to the value of feven 
hundred thoufand pounds. The circuitous 
returns of thefe cargoes are computed at a 
million and a half. The artificers and 
mechanics employed at Liverpool alone, re¬ 
ceive one hundred thoufand pounds annually 
for labor and materials employed in equip¬ 
ping the (hips engaged in it; and exclufive 
of the large fums paid for feamen’s wages, 
the commiffions and privilege of the cap¬ 
tains and officers amount at leaft to fifty 
thoufand pounds annually: which are gene- 
B .rally 


rally realized here, mi have contributed 
greatly to the rapid increafe of that com¬ 
mercial town. 

The African tr^de, conneded as if is with 
the Weft Indian commerce, and with the 
trade t<? the remaining continental colonies, 
and Newfoundland fifhery, is of the utmoft 
cpnfequence jto the employment of many 
thoufands of our fellow fubje&s $ tp the na¬ 
val power of Britain; and tp the royal re-, 
venues 5 aft which are conjoined by fyippa- 
thetic ties. The yaliie pf three millions at 
leaft of domeftic m*nufjwfture$, e$clufivc 
of other merchandize, annually finds a pr<H 
litable vent by means of the African and 
Weft Indian trades; and above five millions 
of property, arifipg from the labor of Ne¬ 
gro flayes, employed in the Weft Indian 
iflands, is yearly imported from thence$ 
which contributes not iefs than a million 
and an half annually to the revenue of this 
kingdom- * To carry on this immenfc traf¬ 

* As this eftimate of the importance of the Weft Indian 
and African trades was made from memory, without any 
documents at hand to rsfer to, it may be fatiafa&ory to the 




JBc, and to fupply thefe iflands with lumber 
and provifions from the continental colo¬ 
nics and Newfoundland fifhery, gives con- 
fe|)t employment to at kail a thoufand 


reader to fee it compared with the ftatements in the public 
accounts, which were laid before the Houfe of Commons 
in the laft feffion of parliamentwith this view, the fol¬ 
lowing extracts from the public accounts arc annexed. 

Exports to the Sugar Colonies from 
Chriftmas 1786 to Chriftmas 1787. £1,61 2,009 5 10 
Exports to Africa in the fame period. 679,617 60 

£2,291,626 it 10 

N. B. It Ihould be obferved, that the cufbm-houfe value 
of the goods exported is only three-fourths of their real va¬ 
lue ; which brings the amount of the exports nearly to the 
fum quoted in the text. 

To enter into a detail of the feveraf articles, would ex¬ 
ceed my limits; I fball therefore only remark a few of the 
principal ones that were feat to the Weft Indies : of thefe 
the amount was as fellows: 

Britilh linens .£$08,618 84 

Ditto Woollens ..- . - -- 98,58.1 1 1 9 

tronWare .. 167,497 r6 10 

Copper Ware. 44,291 13 o 

Fifty thoafaadbarrels of Britifh herrings, 
caught on our own (bores by Britilh 

B 2 

£ii>99 1 * 9 


ftiips, and to above twenty thoufand mari¬ 
ners. To enumerate the fatal confequences 
that would inevitably enfue from a check 
given to this extenfive commerce, much 


Imports from the Sugar Colonics from Chri&mas 1786 to 
Chriftmas 1787: 

Sugar, 1,926,741 cwt. valued at 5d. per 

lb..^4,495,729 o Q 

Rum, 2,455,657 gallons, at 6s. per gal. 676,097 2 o 
Coffee, 1,126,073 lb. at 80s. per cwt... 40,216 17 o 
Cocoa, 281,111 lb. at 50s. per cwt. 6,272 10 o 

,C5> 218 >3i5 9 0 
N. B. No accounts were delivered of the amount of the 
following articles, viz. cotton, ginger, pimento, dying 
woods, aloes and other drugs, mahogany, fuftic, lignum 
vitas, and other woods; but they are calculated as follows, 

Cotton, 40,000 bags, at 25I. each .. £1, 000,000 o o' 

Ginger, 4000 bags, at 2I. each. 8,000 o o 

Pimento, 12,000 ditto, at 5!. each.. 60,000 o o 

Woods, valued at. 25,000 o o 

H 1,093,000 o o 

Amount of imports, as above, 5,218,315 9 o 

£6,311,315 9 o 

N. B. It is fuppofed the cottons imported amount to 
eighty thoufand bags of 2401b. each ; but as part are the 
growth of foreign iflands, they are dated at only half the 




more the fuppreflion of it, exceeds the pre- 
fent limits of this fhort Iketch, but they 
(hall be hinted in the fequcl. , 

Imports from Africa from Chriftmas 1786 to Chriftmas 
1787, fuch as ivory, gold duft, &c. as Rated in the pub¬ 
lic accounts..,*.£ 106,245 19 3 

Value of 38,000 Negroes, imported in¬ 
to the Weft Indies, &c. at 40I. fterling 
each.... 1,520,000 o o 
















Nett £1,064,857 






Drawback on 864,313 gallons exported 17,899 



Nett £29,044 



Excife on 1,3 89,344 gallons of rum 

oonfumed, at 3s. 7d. per gallon-£248,924 1 o 

Cofiee from 1 oth May to Chrift,- 

^51787. 69,087 9 n 

Cbcoa from ditto..„. 10,916 2 o 

328,917 12 11 

Cuftoms on Sugar, as above. -.. 1,064,857 10 5 
Ditto on Rum............... 29,044 5 10 

Total £1,422,829 9 2 

b 3 ' 



The adventurers in this trade, who haw 
feera for near a century paft, the Society for 
propagating Chriftianity, cotnpofed Of the 
Archbiihop of Canterbury, the Bifliop of 
London, and many pious doctors of thecfta- 
blilhed church, deriving, as mailers, a yearly 
income from the labor of their Negroe 
flaves in the Weft Indies, which is appro¬ 
priated to the increafe of Chriftiamty in the 
world, could not conlider it as contrary to 
the fpirit of the Scriptures,, or to the princi¬ 
ples of morality: nor could the adventurers 
regard this traffic as mconfiftent with the 
natural rights of mankind, when they read 
in the ftatute of 9. and 10 of King William 
(which was made avowedly for extending 
the trade to Africa), “ That this trade was 
« highly he?ieficial to this kingdom ” a decla¬ 
ration of a king, who was the patron of li¬ 
berty, and of a parliament that had vindi¬ 
cated the natural rights of mankind; and 
when they read alfo in the flat, of 23 Geo. II. 
«« That the trade to Africa is very advantageous 
« to Great Britain , ^incceffary to the plant a- 
“ tions.” Which a (ft was made by a whig 
king, and a whig parliament; who, when 



they difloNed the late African Company, 
granted a large fum of motley as a compen- 
fation for their rights, in order that a trade 
thus iiecefiary and advan&geous, might be 
carried on with greater energy and fuccefs. 

Encouraged by thefe, and vMoutf other 
a&s of parliament, which declared the Afri- 
can trade to be highly beneficial; to this na¬ 
tron, many merchants engaged their fortunes 
ink; not could they imagine the pur chafe 
of Negroes from thofe ftatefs of Africa (who 
have the fame right to difpofe of them as 
the parliament has to inflt (5 the pains of ba- 
nifhment or death) or cortfider the Jak of 
them as illegal, when they knew that many 
able lawyers, learned judges, and illuftrious 
chancellors had exprcfsly declared this pur- 
chafe and fale to be lawful ; arid to have 
transferred to the matter ftreft a property as 
could not be affeefted by local changes. Or 
fubfequent baptifm: and when the adven¬ 
turers krtow alfo, that in conformity fd the 
declarations of thefe judges and lawyers, the 
ftatute of the 5th of his late and of the 13th 
of his prefent Majefly, fubje&ed the Ne¬ 
groes in the Weft Indian iflands, as well as 
B 4 the 


the lands which they labored* , to the pay¬ 
ment of all debts, owing either to his Ma- 
jetty, or to any of his fubjeds; and direded 
thefe Negroes to be fold, like any other 
chattels, for fatisfadion of fuch debts. In 
confequence of which, the five ; hundred 
thoufand Negroes, how belonging to the 
planters in thofe ifiands, are pledged by the 
legiflature,. and by the nation, for payment 
of the debts that are due, either to the Bri T 
tifli merchants or manufacturers, or to the 
fubjeds of foreign princes; who, by a late 
ad of parliament, have been encouraged 
and enabled to lend money to thefe planters, 
on the fecurity of their lands, and of the 
labor of their Negroes. 

Yet this trade, fo highly beneficial to the 
adventurers, and important to the ttate; a 
trade fandioned by the clergy, fupported 
by the judges, and authorized by the laws, 
has lately been condemned both in principle 
and pradice. By the law and ulage of par¬ 
liament, the moft trivial right of the mott 
inconfiderable fubjed is never taken away, 
even for the public good itfel£ without a 
manifeft nccettity, and a full compenfation. 



Yet an attempt has been made, and meafuits 
are unremittingly purfued, to deprive the 
Britifti planters, merchants and manufa&u~ 
arers, of the advantage of this important 
traffic ; and urider a pretence of regulation, 
reftri&ions have already been impofed, 
which ftrike at its exiftence: but though 
the, liberty of Negroes feems now to,be the 
favorite idea, the liberty of Britons to pur- 
fue their lawful occupations Ihould not be 
forgotten: for the principle which has raifed 
the commerce and navigation of this coun¬ 
try, and. with them the landed intereft and 
revenues of the kingdom, from inconfider- 
able beginnings to their prefent greatnefs, 
is the right which every man in it poffefles, 
to carry on his own bufinefs, in the way 
mofl advantageous to himfelf and the. fo~ 
ciety, without any fudden interruption in 
the purfuit of it; and the confcmfnejs which 
he has, of the fteady protection of the law's, 
in the profecution of what has been ihewn 
to be legal. 

At a time when neighbouring nations, 
our rivals in commerce as well as arms, arc 
lavilhing unprecedented bounties, to extend 


g6 a short Account of 

their African trade, and endeavor to promote 
it by every poffihfe encouragement, an affo* 
elation has been formed here for the avowed 
purpofe of Mijbmg it; who fuffering them- 
feives to be impofed upon, by lending too 
credulous an ear to that kind Of information 
which they fought with more avidity than 
juftke, without duly confidering by what 
means, or by or from whom it was procured, 
have labored to inflame the pafiions, and 
prejudice the minds of the community, by 
various publications,, containing the mOft 
grofs miftatements Of fads, and mifrepre- 
fentation ofchara&ers. It is an eafy talk to 
draw in glowing colors, that imaginary 
pi&ure of human woe, which' fhall excite 
compaflio®, and rouze indignation; and in 
this ftyle of painting the folici tors for the 
abolition have afmoft focceeded to their 
wilhes: by their perfonai afliduities, fob- 
feriptions, and publications; by their circu¬ 
lar letters to the mayors of corporations, and 
addrefles to grand juries, they have raifed 
the torch of civil conteft in the realm, which 
may eventually fpread the flame of refiftanee 
throughout the colonies. Their clamors 



have reached the legiflasure ; and they who 
are concerned in the trade, have been called 
upon to defend their rights and injured re¬ 
putation, at the bar of both haufes of par* 

It has there appeared in evidence, that to 
ferve a particular purpoJe> the. mortality of the 
mariners, and of the Negroes^ had been ex¬ 
aggerated beyond the bounds of probability 
and truth: that the African trade, fa far from 
feeing deftrudive to the lives of Britiflx fea- 
men, in the degree aflerted, is, in fad a nur- 
fery for training up men to that iufefuL pro- 

feffion.* That this trade is carried on as 
much to the eafe and comfort of thofe that 

are the fubjeds of it, and alfo of thofe who 
condud it, as it is poflible for human inge¬ 
nuity to devife. That the Ihips employed in 
it, are fo peculiarly conftruded for the ac- 

* For it is in this trade alone that thofe who are de- 
firous pf embracing a fealife, at an age too advanced to 
commence an apprenticefhip. Can find employment; as the 
crews of veflels in any other trade, confift of feamen and 
apprentices only: but in this, one half at lead of each 
Clip’s company is compofed of landfmen, young men, who 
in two or three voyages acquire as much profeffional know¬ 
ledge as qualifies them afterwards for any Cation o£ afea 




commodation of the Negroes, as to be un- 
firitable for any other trade. That the opi¬ 
nion, which has been induftrioufly propa¬ 
gated, of thefe fiiips being unequal to the 
numbers which were faid to be crowded in 
them, is groundlefs; as appears from a fur- 
vey and admeafurement of them, by an ex¬ 
perienced naval office? 4 appointed by govern¬ 
ment.* That on the voyage from Africa to 
the Weft Indies, the Negroes are well fed, 
comfortably lodged, and have every poffible 
attention paid to their health, cleanlinefs, 
and convenience. That the captain's cabbin 
is appropriated to the ufe of fuch as are lick : 
where proper care, and medical aid, are duly 
adminiftred to them; and that, by an admi¬ 
rable regulation, the emoluments of the cap¬ 
tains and officers, employed in this trade, are 
connefted with, and depend upon, the health 
and good condition of thofe whom they have 
the charge of conveying. The mode of 6b- 

* In fifcery inftance of thofe fhips which delivered their 
cargoes at the Britifti Weft India iftands, it appears that 
(toevade a duty upon tonnkge which is paid there) their ton¬ 
nage was reported to theciiftom houfes, at one third or more 
biltrw their real burthen . 



taining Negro flaves in Africa, has been 
demonftratcd to be in a way pcrfe&ly fair, 
and equitable; by a barter with the natives. 
The crime of kidnapping, as it is termed, with 
which the traders to Africa have been re¬ 
proached, proves to be extremely unfrequents 
for the African committee, whofe bufinefs it 
is to take cognizance of fuch an offence, and 
for which the law inflkSb a heavy penalty, 
have reported, that only one inftance of it has 
come before them in the courfe of near forty 
years. It has alfo been {hewn, that, in con- 
fequence of this trade, many innocent lives 
are fpared, that would otjierwife be facrificed 
to the fuperftitious rites and ceremonies .0 
the country; many prifoners of war exempt¬ 
ed from torture, and death; and the punifti- 
ment of many crimes commuted from death 
in Africa to life in America: and finally, that 
it is the lot of moft of thofe that are brought 
to the Colonies, who, generally fpeaking, 
were (laves in their own country, only to 
exchange a black mailer for a white one. 

That the wars which have always cxifred 
in Africa, have no connexion with the {lave- 
trade, is evident from the univerfality of the 



practice of it between communities in a favage 
fratc. The oldeft writers, as Leo, and others* 
have reprefented the Africans as living in a 
continual ftate of war and rapine, long be¬ 
fore the commerce with Europeans was in¬ 
troduced among them; and no man of fenfe 
can doubt but the fame practice would frill 
continue, if no trade exifted, and with greater 
frequency* Befides the motives of ambition 
and refentihent, which the African has, in 
common with other nations of men, the tur¬ 
bulent and irafcible difpofition of a Negro 
prompts him to harrafs and difpute with his 
neighbour, upon the mod trivial provoca- 
Lured by the love of plunder, before 
he ever faw an European commodity (as the 
value of an article depends upon the eftima- 
tion it holds in the fancy of him who covets 
it), the rude productions of the country, the 
trinkets of gold, or ivory, &c. were as much 
the objects of his dclire formerly, as the 
acquifition of European manufactures can be 
at prefent. So far are the Whites from being 
acceflary to thefe wars, as has been unjuftly 
alleged; it is notorious, that the Europeans 
trading there, deprecate a war as the greateft 



inconvenience that can happen to them: 
trade is entirely, fufpended during it£ con* 
tinuance { and the term of tjieir voyages is 
thereby protracted much beyond the ufual 
time. Hence arifes an inevitable increafe of 
expence, and an additional ri(k of hcknels 
and mortality, which cannot be compcnfatcd 
by a few additional Haves, that may occafion- 
ally be brought to market in confequeace of 
it. The afiertion, that farther fupplies of 
flaves from Africa, are not necefiary to the 
cultivation of our iflands, fcarcely merits a 
feriousrefutation. It is.difiated by the fame 
miftaken policy, that preferred the wild? of 
Canada, at the clofe of a former war, to tfyp 
poffeflion of the truly valuable Sugar Iflands? 
w hich, after being wrefted from our enemies 
and rivals, at the cxpence of much blood and 
treafure, were again reftored to them in an 
evil hour. But are no new fettlements to be 
made, nor old ones to be extended? Is in* 
duftry to be limited, and improvement pro¬ 
hibited, in the mofl valuable of all our foreign 
poffeflions ; where a fupply from propagation 
alone, adequate to the fervices required, is 
never to be expedted And are princely ter¬ 



ritories, millions of property, to be hazarded 
upon crude experiments l of whofe fuccefs 
Tome few may poffibiy hope ; but of whofc 
failure few indeed can have a doubt ? 

How the Negroes, occupied in the Colo¬ 
nies, are now treated, remains next to be 
confidcred; and cannot be better related than 
nearly in the words of a refpedtabie writer*, 
who has very lately favored the public w*ch 
his obfervations on this fubjeft* 

Negro property is an object of fuch value 
and importance to the proprietor, that he is 
difpofed to cheriih it by every prudent and 
humane method: independent of what he 
owes as a man, and a Chriftian, he feels an 
adventitious affection for it, refulting from 
intereft. Hence it is, that the happinefs 
and mifery of Negroes, in the Weft Indies, 
depend almoft totally on themfelves. If a 
Negro is flothful or flagitious, he is, like 
rafeals and drones of fociety in every well 
regulated community, poor and miferabie; 
and fubject to correction, as a punilhment 
for his own vices, and for the inftruction of 
others: but, on the contrary, if he is in- 

* He&or M'Neil, Efq. of Jamaica. 



duftrious in his own concerns, and attentive 
to the intereft of his fuperior, mild m tem¬ 
per, and tradable in difpofttion, he is en- v 
titled to indulgencies, which thoufands, even 
in this country, would be happy to enjoy.— 
The habitations of the Haves, on every eftate, 
are Ittuated near the dwelling T houfe of the 
owner, or overfeer; that they may be under 
more immediate infpe&ion. Thefe;are, in 
general, comfortable and oommodipus ; with 
a garden to each, encircled with plantain,, 
banana, and orange trees; and ftocked ; with 
roots and vegetables, for domeftic ufes ; and 
even a large furplus to fpare, which is; carried 
occalionally to market, to exchange for thofe 
little neceflaries and luxuries, which they wilh 
to enjoy. Befides this, there is a portion of 
land on every eftate, called the Negro~ 
grounds , of which each Have is allowed as 
much as he can cultivate, for his own ule. 
This land, from the fertility of the foil, 
requires only a fmall portion of occafional 
labor; a few hours in a week is fufficicnt, 
and the Negro is allowed, independent of 
every Sunday, which he has to himfeif 
throughout the year, one day in a fortnight, 
C for 



for * eight months of it, for cultivating hi.i 
grounds. In thefc habitations, there is an 
arrangement of apartments, and propriety of 
furniture ; a fupply of utcnfils; and even 
a parade of apparel, little to be expededin 
the poflelTion of Haves. They have each 
their ftyes of hogs, and little Hocks of poul¬ 
try; fomebf them referred for fale, and 
the reft appropriated to their evening’s re- 
paft; this, with a comfortable night’s reft, 
enables them to return with vigor to the 
next morning’s work, which, however ftrange 
it ihay foem, is not fo hard as that of molt 
of the laboring poo? in Britain. But what 
renders th£ fttuatiOn of the Negro peculiarly 
comfortable, is the prdvifton made for him 
during iftqknefs, and old age. On the firft 
fympioms 'of indifpofition, he is inftaintly 
exempted from all labor, and lodged in a 
houfe* particularly conftruded for the pur- 
pofe, where he is vifited daily by a praditioner 
of medicine; fupplied with frefh viands, ve¬ 
getables, and even wine; attended conftant- 
ly by a nurfe, who ads likewife as an under 

, * Crop-time oecopies the other four. 



medical affiftant, and is not defired, or even 
allowed to refume labor, until his health 
and ftrength enable him to undergo its fa¬ 
tigues. Let indifpofition continue never fo 
Jong* no immediate lofs, no confufion or 
derangement in his little property, is the 
confequence. Poverty, want, and affliction, 
are, by no means, the concomitants of his 
lick-bed: every thing, through the aflift- 
ancc of his fellow-labourers and the direc¬ 
tion of his fuperiors, goes on, and is at¬ 
tended to, in the fame way, as if he w f as 
immediately on the fpot: his grounds are 
worked; his flock raifed; his fruits and 
products carried to market, by his family or 
connections; and as he is amply fupplied with 
every neceffary during his confinement, in- 
flead of being poorer, he comes out of his 
hofpital a richer man than when he went in. 
When old age has rendered his farther ex¬ 
ertions ufelefs, it may be prefumed, that 
forfie property has been acquired, and a fili¬ 
ation of comfort eftablifhed.—Thefe he is 
allowed to enjoy unmolefted, while the ufual 
proportion of provifions and clothing are an¬ 
nually given to him. His children, and his 
C 2 children’s 



children^ children, his friends and former 
fellow-labourers; his countrymen, and fel¬ 
low paffengers, are all near him, and are all 
ready to adminifter their helps and confola- 
tion. In fhort, 4 inftead of wretchednels, 
and chilling penury, old age, in this ftate, 
often wears away and fnaps its fiender thread 
as gently and perhaps as imperceptibly, as 
in any country whatever. It is a fad wor¬ 
thy of obfervation, that a Negro flave in 
the Weft Indies, has fcarcely ever been heard 
to exprefs^a defire to return to his own coun¬ 
try ; nor, of the, many who have obtained 
their freedom there, has one put it into prac¬ 
tice: but, on the contrary, even newly im¬ 
ported Negroes, when threatened by the over- 
feer, upon feme fault or negled of theirs, 
to be fent back again, are ferioufly alarmed 
at it. 

To the eye of candor and moderation I 
addrefs this picture of what does really ex- 
ift. But to the prejudiced,—to thofe who 
are inftigated to calumnies the moft harih, 
and proceedings the moft unjuft, upon the 
flighted grounds, I have nothing to offer, 
becaufe I know that the opinions they have 




haftily adopted without any juftifiable evi¬ 
dence, they will not quite fo haftily give up. 
No perfons are or can be fo well informed 
of the fads I have before dated, as the 
planters and merchants refident, or who have 
refided in the Weft Indies, and in whofe view 
they have paflcd. But the abditionifts very 
artfully endeavor to put aftde every tefti- 
mony of this fort, by inlinuating, that they 
arc intcrefted parties, and therefore their 
evidence muft be deftitute of credibility. It 
is rather hard, that the teftimony of many 
thousands of Britilh fubjeds, among whom 
are men of unqueftioned integrity and 
diftinguilhed moral charader, endued with 
as much virtue and honor as any other clafi 
of men in the world, Ihould be lefs credible 
than that of hireling fcriblers, profligate 
common failors, and the fcum of the people. 
But be it fo; and then let us appeal for the 
truth to other witnefles 5—to the governors, 
and other public officers, civil, military, and 
naval; who holding offices under the crown, 
have occafionally lived in the Weft Indian 
illands, and are undoubtedly competent to 
declare what they have obferved. Let us 



alfo appeal to the adts of our colonial legis¬ 
lature, particularly Jamaica ; where from 
the year 1781 to the prefent, the General Af~ 
fembly have been framing and ena&ing afuc- 
oeflioh of laws, all calculated to meliorate 
the condition of their Negroes by gradual 
Improvements. To have done lefs, would 
ill have accorded with their known humani¬ 
ty; but to have done more, would have 
brought no credit to their wifdom; for to 
anticipate thofe more enlarged privileges 
and franchifes, which time and maturer ci¬ 
vilization alone mufl gradually effe&uate, 
would be folly, or rather frenzy in the ex^ 
treme. The unexceptionable atteftations of 
thefe laws, thefe governors, admirals, gene¬ 
rals, and other officers of high rank and 
character, we may very fafely oppofe to all 
the hearfay (lories, paragraphs, effays, pam¬ 
phlets and hand-bills, which the abolitionijis 
can poflibly ferape together, in fupport of 
their petitions to parliament. 

There now only remains of the propofed 
plan of this (hort (ketch, to point out briefly 
what would be the probable, nay, the inevit¬ 
able £onfequcnce of the furrender of a trade, 



which is the conne&ing medium of our fo¬ 
reign with our domeftic commerce. If it 
were taken out of the chain, of which it com- 
r vfes fo confiderable a link, and upon which 
our manufactures fo immediately* depend, 
every improvement in the Weft ? Indian 
iilands would immediately ceafe, ancl & dimi¬ 
nution of the produce of the lands, now un¬ 
der cultivation there* would ihortiy follow. 
The export of Britilh manufa&urcs, which 
to Africa aiid the Golohies amount td. nearly 
three millions fterlirig’ annually Would foon 
be reduced to nothing* The immenfe fums, 
owing to this country from the Weft In¬ 
dies, would for ever remain unpaid; and in¬ 
numerable bankruptcies would follow at 
home. From the inevitable deereafe of the 
import of Weft Indian produ&ions, there 
would be fuch a deficiency of the national 
revenue, as the impofition of frefli taxes, 
upon a people deprived of their accuftomed 
refources of opulence and indufiry, could 
not poflibly replace. If we ftiould feck to 
replace this deficiency, by importing the 
produ&s of the Foreign Weft Indian iflands, 
this indeed would be a truly national fefo 




de/e, A decay of public credit, and a de¬ 
preciation of government fecurities, would 
enfuc, from an inability to raife the public 
fupplies. Our national importance would 
quickly decline, and be known to the next 
generation, only by the page of hiftory. Af¬ 
ter fo flagrant an aCt of oppreffion and im¬ 
policy, the merchants could no longer con¬ 
fide in government, for the continuation of 
thofe privileges which they. had for ages 
enjoyed* This reflection would naturally 
throw a damp on all future enterprise, in 
every branch of foreign trade, as well as do- 
mcftic manufacture; for however the minds 
of fome men may be inflamed at this mo¬ 
ment, and however ftrenuous they may be in 
oppofidon to the African Have trade, there 
muft a time come, when every Englifhman, 
who is capable of reflecting at all, will weigh 
the tnjuftice of this proceeding, abftraCted 
from every confideration of feeling or poli¬ 
cy; and will then perceive the inftability of 
all commercial eftablifliments in a country, 
where the mistaken zeal of a few could ex¬ 
cite the legiflature, fo grofsly to invade the 
rights of individuals, Thefe and many other 



evils, mud be reafonably expedted from the 
abolition of a trade, which we may relinquifh ; 
but which cannot be taken from us, by the 
jealoufy of foreign power : in this political 
felf-murthcr we mull be our own execution¬ 

To prevent thefe calamities, a bill is now 
framing, from local knowledge and pradlieai 
experience; not a biH of mere theory and 
fpeeulation, fuch as lately appeared, but a 
bill to obviate every reafonable complaint, 
and edablifh every necefiary regulation in 
the African trade : and that fuch a bill may 
meet the approbation of every branch of 
the Britifh legiflature, and be palled into a 
Jaw, ought to be the earned wilh of every 
patriotic Briton.